Buell xb12s review

Buell xb12s review DEFAULT

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Some people are just never happy.

Here I am, owner of what may be the best all-around sporting streetbike on the road today, Triumph’s fun, funky, feisty Street Triple R: a hundred horses pushing you forwards, right around 415 pounds full of gas, and a motor that’s torquey on the bottom, free-revving through the middle, then spins to 13,000 rpm-plus and enjoys every minute of it. Top it off with brakes that feel like they’ll stop a runaway F-18, top-notch, adjustable cartridge suspension from the 675 Daytona, relaxed, upright ergos and a humane seat, and why would you need any other bike? Seriously, why?

Well, aside from my self-esteem issues that keep me from having anything too nice, the Strippler has its faults. Like most Triumphs, it’s sort of spendy to maintain. It returns lackluster fuel economy for a middleweight, has an absurdly sensitive throttle and styling that’s…well…it’s not the kind of bike you’ll want to write poetry about, let’s put it that way. I also realized the bike was worth more than I had paid for it, so I was thinking, shucks, why not cash out, get something equally fun and interesting, and apply the extra dough to something fun, like funding my kid’s college fund?

Why not? Well, the problem is finding the bike that will fill the Triumph’s shoes, performance and value-wise. A comfy, sporting standard, lightweight and torquey, for around $4,000. What was out there?

Well, I’ve always admired the fuel-in-frame Buell XB series. About 18 months ago, my pal Ivan emailed that he bought an XB9S, bringing back memories of how much I enjoyed riding theses bikes. Erik Buell intended them as true all-around streetbikes—comfortable, great handling, light and fun to ride. I mentioned on a local discussion forum (BARF) I was thinking about selling the Trumpet and buying a Buell. Before you know it, some friendly BARF-ers offered up a pair of XBs to ride, then my friend Alan wanted to ride, and then Ivan heard about it and wanted to come with his friend Dennis (who rides a ’97 Buell X1 White Lightning), so I had to have MD contributor John Joss come along as well — just to keep it real. Suddenly, we had a story on our hands.

What have you heard about the XB series? Here’s what I know. Introduced in 2002, the bikes use an exotic, made-in-Italy frame that puts fuel in the frame spars and oil in the swingarm. The motor was a first for Buell—purpose-built for the brand, it uses architecture similar to the Sportster mills used before, but with new cases and just about everything else. The 984cc version makes about 75 horsies at the wheel, add 12-15 for the manly-man 1203cc XB12. Front suspension is an inverted 41mm fork (43mm after 2004), and braking is by Buell’s ‘ZTL’ braking system, featuring a single rim-mounted 375mm disc and six-piston caliper. Wheelbase is a tidy 52 inches) and the bikes weigh in around 425 pounds with the 3.7-gallon ‘tank’ filled up.

That’s some serious tech, right? Given the bike’s history and quirkiness, you’d think they’d be rare collector’s items, with high resale values. Not. A local Craigslist scan showed you could buy Buell XBs by the metric tonne in the $2,500-$4,000 range, and they have a pretty good reputation for reliability, believe it or not. Spare parts are not just available, through 250 Harley-Davidson dealers, they also tend to be much cheaper than Japanese or European brands. Maintenance is also pretty reasonable — the Sporty-derived motor uses hydraulic valve adjusters and final drive is by a non-adjustable belt Buell claimed would last the life of the bike (but is easy and cheap to replace if it doesn’t). Icing on the cake—fuel economy is in the 50-plus range if you baby it, 40-plus if you don’t, fantastically efficient compared to my gas-guzzling Triumph, which returns 35 only if you ride like you ingested too much cold medication.

My memories of testing these bikes when I was a big-shot motojournalist are rosy — probably because I was riding brand-new, carefully prepped machines. The two machines BARFers Chess and Mandy own—a 2003 XB9S and a 2004 XB12S — are in good condition for decade-old bikes with five digits on the speedo, but still feel used. Ivan’s 2003 XB9S has the most miles, and is the most tired, but all three still fell a lot better than your average high-mileage machine and would greatly benefit from some TLC; fresh suspension and brake rebuilds, maybe some bearings and bushings.  You’d have new bikes, essentially. Judging from the loyalty of Buell owners, the last generation of the 126,000 bikes produced by Buell are solid, reliable rides that will probably outlast most of their owners.

So what are they like to ride? For a motorcycle in that price range, excellent. Let’s start with the good stuff — torque and handling. Even the revvier (but softer) XB9 mill has more power available right off idle — hell, at 500 rpm — than anything short of an electric motor. Handling isn’t what you’d expect, given the chassis numbers and relative low mass of the bikes, but at a 7/10ths pace, they are so easy to ride — stable, predictable and balanced. Comfort is also remarkable for this kind of bike; relaxed seating position, comfy seat and smooth running for a 45-degree V-Twin.

That motor won’t dazzle you unless you’re moving up from a Ninja 500 or a cruiser, but it’s still really fun. It’s not a lot of power, but it’s there everywhere, in every gear, even more so on the 12, which is like riding some kind of automatic wheelie simulator. The bottom end of the rev range is so burly you start to think about how incredible it would be if the powerband went on to 10,000 rpm or more. Instead, it peaks at around 7,000 and is bouncing off the limiter around 8,000. Still, for regular riding on bumpy two-lane roads at 60-80 mph, it’s clearly a great mill, an elegant pairing with that special chassis.

In the ‘fail’ box are two niggles: power and brakes. Low-end torque is great, but sometimes you just need that top-end hit, maybe to break the law with a little more style, or when you want to relax a bit at a trackday and not be a hazard in the B group. The Buell mill — 9 or 12 — just doesn’t quite cut it up top compared to bikes you can pick up for just a few hundred bucks more.

And finally — brakes. If there’s one thing Erik B. deserves criticism for, it’s that silly engineering-for-engineering’s sake brake system. At best, the hula-hoop disk and huge caliper work almost as well as a conventional setup, but at the cost of slower steering and interference with trail-braking fun. Even worse, the system seems to need more attention than a regular one, and all three bikes I rode needed love, performing with a weak initial bite and requiring much more squeeze to slow down. Luckily, the bike is kind of slow and doesn’t need a lot of braking, except in an emergency, in which case you’re on your own.

So would I buy one? If I only had $4,000 to spend on a used bike, absolutely. The Buell lacks power, and the brakes are goofy, but what bike is perfect? Not one I’ve ever had. For the money, you’d have to get really lucky to get this kind of fun, handling, economy, style and well-engineered quality. If you’ve got a Buell XB, hang on to it to give to your kids. If you want one, consult your motorcycle-sales professional or Craigslist if you think a Buell might be right for you.

Second Take: Big Al Lapp

I’ll own up to being an import motorcycle guy. I grew up riding mostly Suzuki and Honda, I currently own three Kawasakis and in over 35 years of riding have owned just one Yamaha. My current daily driver is a KTM dual-sport bike but back in the mid-90s I actually considered buying Buell’s first ‘regular’ production motorcycle, the S2 Thunderbolt. However, I wasn’t impressed with the essentially unmodified Sportster motor.

Imagine my pleasure when Gabe invited me along on his Buell fact-finding mission. I was to shoot, ride and provide opinions of the XB series — which are quite affordable on the used market.

So, I’ll start by saying that the thing I liked most about them 15 years ago is the thing that I now like least: it’s a tiny little sport bike. Eric Buell was said to have modeled the chassis geometry for his original bike after the TZ250, a successful track-only roadracing bike. This is possibly an urban legend, but believable. When I pulled up next to another riding buddy’s Honda Super Hawk, the Buell was visibly and significantly shorter in both wheelbase and seat height. Chess, the owner of the XB9S, said I made it look like a pit bike.

So, being taller, I had to fold up my legs pretty severely to get my feet on the high pegs. I don’t expect borrowed bikes to be set up for me but aside from the usual lever problems I was surprised to find that the suspension worked quite well for my weight, having about the right amount of damping to provide a plusher ride than I’d have expected, yet provide thoroughly confidence inspiring control.

Bottom line: would I buy it? There are pros and cons to a Buell XB: adequately muffled, they sound great, and I’m even a fan of the (somewhat polarizing) styling. On the road, they’re a nice experience — the torquey motor pulls sweetly and now that I’m older and slower and ride a thumper, provides adequate thrust for real-world riding. The true stars of the show are the chassis and the brakes. They’re both user friendly and provide good feedback. Heck, the seat is even comfortable enough for long rides if you can figure out how to fit luggage. The answer: no, I’m too tall. If I were shorter than 5’10” or had creepy short legs, I’d probably say yes.

Third Take: John Joss

Why should Gabe buy a Buell?

Why not?

Get right down to it, each of us has a different way to get from here to there: walk, ride a bicycle, take a bus, hitchhike, even — choke, gasp — drive a car, as a last resort, if all else fails.

But we don’t do any of the above. We ride . . . a motorcycle. Not any motorcycle. We who have been riding for a while and who have sampled a few different motorcycles come down to this: which should it be? Then: what should our next one be? Last: can we afford it?

Buell is a logical choice, a technical choice, an emotional choice and — in the case of Erik Buell’s Harley-Davidson-engined machines — a financial choice. In short, Erik Buell gets it. He has given us special gifts with his machines. And they are there, economically, for the taking.

He’s in select company. In the last 100-odd years since the motorcycle was invented, many brilliant designers have tried to capture the platonic essence of ‘motorcycle.’ They strove to create a machine that could go, stop and handle, one that could work reliably year in and year out, that could be maintained at reasonable cost, that could please our minds and emotions. Machines with character, class and style, machines that we would live for and live with and love. Machines with soul. Think a Vincent-HRD, a Moto-Guzzi, a bevel-drive Ducati, an air-head BMW, a flat-head Harley or . . . a Buell. Erik Buell lives in the pantheon of the great, original designers.

Every time I ride a Buell, I sense that soul-moving effect. It’s in the bike’s DNA: a big motor that delivers monster torque and a stirring V-Twin rumble, a short wheelbase that encourages the inner child with its incipient wheelies, a sensible front brake on the wheel periphery, where it works more efficiently and one disk is as good as others’ two, fuel in the frame, oil in the swingarm. Just look at it: there isn’t a boring line in it.

Should he buy one? He could do a lot worse.

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Sours: https://www.motorcycledaily.com/2012/03/stop-me-before-i-buy-a-used-buell-xb/

Thread: My Buell xb12 review after 1.5 years of ownership.

  • 05-29-2012, 08:51 AM#1

    fireinxb is offline
    Senior Member
    I wrote this review up for another forum I frequent. You guys understand the love I feel for this bike, most people don't. I tried to explain it in this review.

    To anyone who cares I'd like to drop a brief review of my Buell here after 1.5 years or so of ownership. Mine's on the left.

    I just got back from another nice ride today. I ****ing. Love. This. Bike. I still drool over it while I walk up to it in a parking lot, I still giggle like a little girl carving canyons with it, I still get that feeling in my gut (you know the feeling) every time I hammer onto the throttle, even short shifting. I've since put some nice ebay adjustable levers on it, a upgraded front brake rotor, and Jardine exhaust/uni air filter/race map flashed on the ECU. It should make around 95whp at 7500 RPMS/85ftlbs at 6000rpms.

    Now this bike isn't for everyone. Actually, I say DON'T get one unless you not only can stand, but actually LIKE the idea of the following things.

    1) It's a Harley motor. Not only that, but its a "built" Harley motor. Lopeier cams, higher compression, the works. It hisses, clicks, spits, and sputters. Think a hot rod, or muscle car. It's got good throttle response off idle due to the EFI (if tuned right), it idles high around 1100rpms, its air cooled and gets HOT in traffic, WHEN it gets hot it retards timing via the ECU, thus gets slower. Cold nights it runs ridiculously good, wheelying in the first few gears. During a hot day it can barely ride out a 1st gear wheelie.

    2) Parts are going to be somewhat rare and thus somewhat expensive. Don't think MV agusta expensive though, think Ducati expensive. The motor requires no valve adjusts whatsoever, you change the oil and go. It's belt drive and belts last 12k miles. There is PLENTY of aftermarket available. Sportster jugs/heads fit, but many companies make buell specific parts with bigger cooling fins. Lots of jugs, big bore kits (think 1450cc stroker), head work, etc mods available. Most anything for a Harley Evo motor will work. So most of the motor parts are guaranteed available for years to come. H-D is required by law to supply Buell parts until 2017 (7 year rule), after that hopefully aftermarket will pick up the slack. There's actually tons of parts available now, so if you're like me and want to keep this bike forever stock up while you can.

    3)This ---- vibrates. Seriously. loc-tite everything, get used to not using your mirrors for more than a vague outline of what's behind you, I always turn my head to actually check before switching lanes and never trust my mirrors. It will vibrate bolts loose, exhausts apart, and your ass to sleep. Once rpms rise to about 3k, its smooth as most bikes, but when your loping around its a beast(again, think hod rod/muscle car).

    4) You're the outcast. Boo-hoo, I know. But it's true. "sport bike" guys look down on you for not purchasing a "real bike", cruiser guys (most of them) don't think your cool enough to be associated with (who cares really), and ducati/exotic guys will talk trash on build quality. The good thing here is you have quite a rare bike and there are also just as many people who absolutely drool over it, think its a 20k dollar bike, etc. It goes both ways. My point here is make sure you buy the bike for YOU, not to impress others.

    5) Best handling bike I've ever ridden. Now I havn't ridden all that many bikes, but I have ridden these: 2007 ducati 620 dark, 2006 r6, hd-sportster, ninja ex500, 07gsxr1000. Now I'm not going to say it outright out handles all of these, because I don't know. I havn't pushed the limits of any of these bikes to their maximum, they were all ridden on the street. I will say that the short wheelbase and low center of gravity, along with light weight (sub 400lbs) inspires confidence. I love the way it falls into corners, and I've drug pegs on it a few times and never felt like I was going to lose it. It rails through bumps mid turn perfectly, assuming you properly adjust the suspension to your weight, riding style.

    6) THE SOUND. If you like the sound of a good v-twin this bike is for you. It has an intoxicating exhaust note that makes my balls tingle. I love the raw deep growl it produces screaming at 7krpms. GET AN EXHAUST. the stock one sounds like a sewing machine due to lots of valve noise and no exhaust note.

    Now this comes with a few drawbacks. First because of the short wheelbase its not considered the most stable at speed. However the bike will only do 140(gearing limited) so it never becomes an issue. Secondly it takes getting used to, as due to its short wheelbase it doesn't feel like a "standard" Japanese sport bike - it's not worse, its different. Ride it and see if you like it.

    Now I think that covers most everything, I'm sure there's a few other things I could go over like riding position, etc. But they make a few different models of XB to accommodate that. I like my clipon bars, but I've ridden my brothers lightning and its fantastic as well. Now you might think I'm just some Buell fanboi, and maybe I am. I love this bike that much, and I certainly had my doubts going into ownership(Bought a absolutely abused/lemon bike for cheap as a project and rebuilt it) I will own it forever, and hope to acquire a few other bikes along the way. Next on the list is a clean RC51. Then maybe an 1125R, or a SM like a KTM or a DRZ400.

    If you look at a Buell and love everything about it, WTF are you waiting for, BUY ONE!

  • 05-29-2012, 09:04 AM#2

  • 05-29-2012, 09:09 AM#3

    IstartTheMachine is offline
    Can I say this? **** YEAHH!!!

  • 05-29-2012, 09:12 AM#4

    stamen is offline
    Senior Member

  • 05-29-2012, 09:30 AM#5

    fireinxb is offline
    Senior Member

    Thanks guys. If you cant tell already, i love my bike :D

  • 05-29-2012, 09:31 AM#6

    MustangGuy is offline
    Senior Member

    I've only owned my Firebolt a short time and have only ridden a few different bikes - none of them super sports - but this still sums up my feelings perfectly. I spent a couple of hours on it yesterday ( we are still getting acquainted) and realized that I've had more enjoyment from it in the past couple of months than I've had in the classic car hobby in the past 20 years! I wish I discover Buells sooner, but I think there's a right time for everything and "better late than never"!

  • 05-29-2012, 09:35 AM#7

    raz65man is offline
    Senior Member

  • 05-29-2012, 09:52 AM#8

    bigflash1 is offline

    Great write up! Captured it right on the nose.

  • 05-29-2012, 10:09 AM#9

    BuddhaBuell is offline
    Senior Member BuddhaBuell's Avatar
    excellent write up fireinxb!

  • 05-29-2012, 10:30 AM#10

    pur pony is offline
    Senior Member pur pony's Avatar
    nice write-up...

    I went from a 03 R1 to a 99 X1.... I dont miss the R1 a bit... well maybe just a little.... but i LOVE my buell. Its just plain and simple FUN to ride.

  • Sours: https://www.buellxb.com/forum/
    1. Cvs locations ga
    2. Polynesian bear tattoo
    3. Lowcountry connections academy

    Buell XB12R Firebolt & XB12S Lightning (2003 – 2010) | Buyer's Guide


    What to pay:

    As with so many bikes, the once unpopular Buells have found a new lease of life and as such used examples hold their prices. You can pick up an early XB12R or S for in the region of £5000 from a dealer, however this does rise quite dramatically to nearer to £7000 for a later generation or one of the rare models such as the STT or Lightning Long. Private sales tend to be considerably cheaper, but you are taking a bit of a punt as there is no warranty. If you are on a budget, the XB9 models are less sought after than the XB12s, so you can save around £1000 if you sacrifice a bit of capacity.


    Who to ask:


    The enthusiasts site www.ukbeg.com is your best source of information as most Harley dealers do their very best to avoid the brand. Ask who is recommended in your area as owning a Buell requires locating a specialist mechanic who knows them inside and out rather than just going to a local multi bike franchise.


    Better call Maz - Maz Matsell runs The Emporium – Just Buells and is an independent Buell specialist. He can be contacted via Facebook and is the man to go to for sorting out the irritating niggles that can ruin the whole experience of owning a Buell.



    Engine: 1203cc, air-cooled V-twin, 4v

    Power: 103bhp @ 6,800rpm

    Torque: 84ftlb @ 6,000rpm

    Weight: 179kg


    Buell Lightning Buell Firebolt Buyers Guide
    Sours: https://www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocial/reviews/bikes/buell/buell-xb12r-firebolt-and-xb12s-lightning-2003-2010-buyers-guide

    MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

    In a market dominated by inline four-cylinder, liquid-cooled, overhead cam 600cc supersport bikes, Buell’s XB models certainly stand out from the crowd. The first time you see one (or take a look at the specs), you might be a little confused. A compact sportbike (and it’s ‘streetfighter’ variation) powered by an air-cooled V-Twin featuring pushrod valve actuation (and derived from the engines of Buell’s parent company, Harley-Davidson)? How does that work?

    The short answer is, pretty damn well. But before we get into a more detailed riding impression, it’s important to spend some time outlining the features and specifications of the XB model range.

    According to Erik Buell (company founder and himself a talented designer and engineer), when he and his design team first put pen to paper with the XB series, their concept was to create a motorcycle that ‘does exactly what you expect it to’, and responds to rider inputs ‘accurately, predictably, and immediately’. To that end, they developed what they call the ‘Buell Trilogy of Tech’ – three underlying principles that Buell’s designers feel are the keys to building a bike that meets their stated goals.

    The first part of the ‘Trilogy of Tech’ (hereafter referred to as ‘ToT’) is mass centralization. According to Buell, proper location of a motorcycle’s many components is critical to building a bike that provides effortless direction changes and promotes rider confidence in turns. A close examination of any of the XB models reveals that almost every piece on the bike has been developed with mass centralization in mind, but there are a few outstanding examples.

    The muffler is mounted at the lowest, most central point on the bike – running directly under the engine, and ending near (but below) the rear swingarm pivot point. Rather than using a traditional high-mounted fuel tank, the XBs store this most precious (and expensive) of liquids inside the spars of the massive aluminum perimeter frame, allowing a good portion of the fuel load to be carried lower, while at the same time leaving room for a large-volume airbox where the fuel tank would normally be located (Buell says the larger airbox volume helped them produce more power from the V-Twin engine). The engine’s oil reservoir is also creatively conceived; the forward portion of the XB’s aluminum swingarm doubles as an oil tank, allowing Buell to do away with the separate oil tank that has been a feature on every Harley-powered machine for many decades. Thus the weight of the oil is also carried extremely low, and don’t worry – being located extremely close to the swingarm’s pivot point means the oil has a negligible affect on unsprung weight.

    Speaking of unsprung weight, it comprises the second part of the ‘ToT’ – that is, low unsprung weight. Decreasing unsprung weight makes it easier for the suspension to damp the motion of the wheels, which pays dividends in the form of handling, stability (particularly over the unavoidable mid-corner bumps), and even straight-line ride quality.

    Again, Buell’s design team thought outside the box when it came to decreasing unsprung weight, and what they came up with is now known as the Zero Torsional Load (ZTL) braking system – one of Buell’s many patented innovations. In a normal braking system, the discs are mounted to the wheel’s hub, which means that braking forces have to travel through the wheel’s spokes in their path from the disc to the tire. Buell’s solution was to mount the disc directly to the outer rim of the wheel, giving a much more direct path for braking forces, and allowing a much lighter wheel to be used without any compromise in strength. The larger diameter rotor also provides much greater leverage, allowing Buell to use only a single rotor/caliper rather than the paired setup found on most other sportbikes. Reaching back into ancient history, Buell even claims to have been the first manufacturer to introduce a production street motorcycle with inverted forks – way back in 1991. All this combines to keep the unsprung weight on the XB models to a bare minimum. During the tech presentation, we had a chance to make a direct comparison (read ‘we picked them up’) of the weight of an XB front wheel with disc versus that of a competitor’s 600cc sportbike, and trust me, the XB wheel was MUCH lighter.

    The final part of the ‘ToT’ is chassis rigidity. This may come as a surprise given the volume of recent discussion regarding ‘tuned flex’, but Buell’s engineers still believe that the best frame is the most rigid frame. That led to the aforementioned massive spars of the XB’s aluminum perimeter frame, and the entire construction of the XB provides extreme structural rigidity. Buell claims that this rigidity contributes to the precision handling of their chassis; we said prove it, and they did. But you’ll have to wait til later to read about that.

    The XB’s rigid chassis is connected to the wheels by means of Showa suspension at both ends – 43mm inverted forks up front, and a remote-reservoir monoshock at the rear. The rider who values suspension adjustability will find plenty of it here – both the forks and shock are adjustable for compression and rebound damping, as well as preload.

    The final innovation we’d like to mention is just that: final. Final drive, that is. You see, rather than using the more typical chain-and-sprocket arrangement, Buell opted to develop what they call the Buell Immediate Throttle Response System – a belt final drive with an idler pulley that maintains constant tension in the drive belt, which is supposed to eliminate the driveline lash and hesitation that sometimes result from the changing tension of most belt- or chain-drive systems, where the fact that one sprocket stays stationary and the other swings in an arc results in varying tension depending on the swingarm’s position in its stroke. Another benefit of the belt drive system is that it requires (according to Buell) absolutely zero maintenance – the tension never needs adjusting, and the belt has been tested to last more than 100,000 miles (barring outside damage, which could result from a rock going through the drive, or some similar incident).

    The final part of the XB equation is obviously the powerplant. Both XB models (the faired ‘R’ model, known as the Firebolt, and the streetfighter-style ‘S’ model, called the Lightning) are available with one of two engines – the ‘9’ powerplant (actually displacing 984cc) and the ’12’ (1203cc). The two powerplants are extremely similar, with the 12 being little more than a 9 with a longer-stroke crankshaft. Both are air/oil-cooled 45 degree V-Twins, with the centrally-mounted camshaft actuating the two valves per cylinder by means of a traditional pushrod system. Both motors feature 10:1 compression, and are fuel-injected by means of a single large-diameter downdraft throttle body (45mm on the 9, 49mm on the 12). Buell claims the 984cc motor produces [email protected] and 70 ft-lbs of torque at 5500rpm, while advertising the 1203cc version as having an output of [email protected] and 84 ft-lbs of torque at 6000 rpm.

    So how does Buell’s combination of innovative chassis design and a big, torquey Harley-Davidson based power plant work in the real world? We got the chance to sample the 2007 Buell lineup over 2 days of riding in the Bakersfield, California area – one day on the twisty back roads near Lake Isabella, and one day circulating nearby Buttonwillow Raceway.

    First, a few words about the different Buell models. As I mentioned earlier, there are two primary variants of the XB – the street fighter style Lightning (designated XB9S or XB12S, depending on which motor you opt for), and the sportier Firebolt (XB9R or XB12R), which features clip-on handlebars and a half-fairing as opposed to the miniscule fly screen of the Lightning. Other than slight differences in riding position and appearance, the two chassis are functionally identical. So while I spent the majority of my time on the Lightning, most of what I have to say here should apply to the Firebolt as well.

    With a wheelbase several inches shorter than that of most current 600cc supersport machines, combined with aggressive chassis specs (21 degree rake, 83mm trail), I expected the Firebolt to be quick-handling but nervous. The former is certainly correct, while the latter characteristic is also present to a certain extent, but much less prominent than I expected.

    The Firebolt turns in sharply and cleanly, and gives the rider confidence to quickly move to extreme angles of lean. Once set into a turn, the Buell holds a line with confidence and always gives the impression that there is plenty of grip left – even when you’re dragging both your knee and toe sliders, as I found myself doing through Turn 2 at Buttonwillow, a long, slightly off-camber 180 degree right hander taken in second gear.

    The chassis never feels nervous on rough, bumpy roads, but a minor amount of headshake can be felt when making abrupt shifts under hard acceleration. However, a slight change in riding style eliminated this problem entirely – I simply began dedicating a tiny bit more attention to making smooth shifts.

    Tight corners and sections requiring frequent direction changes are the Firebolt’s strong point – the bike flicks from full lean to full lean crisply and with minimal effort. The XB12S is a fair bit heavier than some of the competition (about 15-30 pounds heavier than a Japanese 600, based on claimed dry weight), but Buell’s emphasis on mass centralization seems to have paid off – the XB12S feels as light or lighter than most of the 600s I have ridden lately.

    The major change to Buell’s 2007 line-up was a move to Pirelli tires across the board; the Lightning and Firebolt are fitted with a new version of Pirelli’s popular Diablo, the Diablo T. According to both Buell and Pirelli engineers, the two companies worked together closely to develop a tire with characteristics that suited the Buell XBs (including low unsprung weight), and these claims were supported both by the performance of the tires, and the presence at the intro of one of the leading test riders from Pirelli’s European headquarters – he traveled all the way to California to answer our questions about the Diablo T (whose developement he was heavily involved in).

    As I said, the performance of the Diablo Ts lived up to Buell and Pirelli’s claims – the tires warmed up quickly, changed direction easily, and had plenty of ultimate grip (at least for a rider of my speed). Basically, they worked perfectly with the XB’s chassis. The Diablo Ts also provided tons of feedback, particularly at the front end, which is extremely important for rider confidence.

    Another reason the XB12S excels in tight corners is the character of the 1203cc V-Twin power plant. In sections where a series of tight, slow corners are separated by extremely short straightaways, the midrange torque is perfect for squirting the XB from corner exit to corner entry. However, once the road opens up, the big V-Twin starts to struggle – in faster sections, I frequently found myself with the throttle wrung all the way to the stop.

    I didn’t get a chance to ride the 984cc-powered XB models, but considering the appealing torque of the bigger motor, I can’t see why anyone would choose the 9 when the 12 is available. The 1203cc motor certainly isn’t ‘too powerful’ – the power delivery is smooth, predictable, and extremely easy to modulate. One of the things that impressed me the most about the XB12S was the perfection of the fuel injection mapping, which primarily manifests itself in the seamless transition from closed to open throttle – one of the best I have experienced on any fuel-injected motorcycle.

    The big 1203cc V-Twin also has surprisingly little engine braking. There’s enough there that you can use it to your advantage when slowing for turns, but not so much that it makes the bike difficult to ride smoothly. I say this is surprising because many of the big-displacement V-Twins I have ridden, and even some of the little ones (umm, SV650) have a very noticeable amount of engine braking. Some riders like this, some don’t – register me in the ‘don’t’ column. The engine braking of Buell’s V-Twin, however, is ‘just right’, at least in my opinion.

    When engine braking just isn’t enough, it’s time to test out that sexy-looking ZTL front brake. At first glance, you might wonder if the single rotor/caliper setup can match the more common dual disc configuration for stopping power. Well, wonder no more – from the rider’s perspective, the brakes on the Buell XB are awesome, with excellent feel and modulation, and great stopping power as well.

    The ergonomics are comfortable enough for a sport bike, particularly on the Lightning, with its upright seating position and wide, dirt bike style handlebars. The seat is excellent as well – I loved the hump that kept me from sliding back too far! Buell engineers claim to have designed the XB’s seats with some kind of advanced computer modeling/simulation program, and it seems to have worked.

    One thing about the XB that stood out was the excellent ride quality, which is a natural product of Buell’s quest to reduce unsprung weight. Despite being sprung and damped stiffly enough to handle aggressive riding, the XB rides extremely smoothly over bumps, potholes, and generally beat up pavement. Of which there seems to be a lot in the Bakersfield area – apparently the Governator’s road repair team forgot about the Central Valley!

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    Sours: https://www.motorcycledaily.com/2006/07/20july06_2007buell_xb12s/

    Xb12s review buell

    BUELL XB12S LIGHTNING (2003 - 2009) Review

    MCN rating4 out of 5(4/5)

    Owners' rating4.6 out of 5(4.6/5)

    SpecsOwners' reviewsBikes for saleFor sale

    Buell XB12S Lightning motorcycle review - Riding


    At a glance

    Overall rating

    Next up: Ride & brakes

    4 out of 5(4/5)

    Author: MCN Staff

    Published: 22 November 2006

    Updated: 08 April 2021

    The Buell XB12S Lightning is weird but it works. An antique, character-rich engine in a stubby street-fighter motorcycle chassis dripping technical innovation. Buell motorcycles is a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson set up by employee/ motorcycle racer/visionary Eric Buell. The Buell XB12S Lightning  is a very individual motorcycle and hugely enjoyable to ride. Easy to love if hard to justify.

    Ride quality & brakes

    Next up: Engine

    5 out of 5(5/5)

    Superb handling. Buell were talking about (and using) mass centralisation years before the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers cottoned on. The Buell XB12S Lightning's rim mounted disc brake works well plus lets the wheel be lighter for lower unsprung mass. Fuel in frame and oil in the swing arm aren’t rocket science but help keep the motorcycle's weight where it’s best carried and the Buell XB12S Lightning corners with aplomb.


    Next up: Reliability

    4 out of 5(4/5)

    1202cc Harley-Davidson air cooled V-twin in the Buell XB12S Lightning has been tuned and lays down fat wads of torque from tick over upwards. The Buell XB12S Lightning's power is plentiful if not excessive. The gearbox is not good though. It needs a firm prod and makes plenty of noise as you swap cogs – but it kind of adds to the experience of taming this motorcycle. Injection somewhat jerky with this particular motorcycle.

    Reliability & build quality

    Next up: Value

    2 out of 5(2/5)

    Buell promise the glitches and niggles of earlier years are sorted with the Buell XB12S Lightning  but owners of the motorcycle report otherwise. Electrical problems and poor finish are more minor than the snapping bolts and drive belts that earlier Buell motorcycles suffered. A local dealer who understands the Buell XB12S Lightning will make ownership easier.

    Value vs rivals

    Next up: Equipment

    3 out of 5(3/5)

    Rival motorcycles are available for similar money to the Buell XB12S Lightning. The exciting and dependable Triumph Speed Triple 1050 and the punchy Aprilia Tuono 1000 are both as desirable and capable but with their own character and cachet. You have to really want any of those motorcycles to buy one but if you do, little else will fit the bill. Used Buell XB12S Lightnings can be a mixed bag – be wary of far-out modifications. 


    2 out of 5(2/5)

    Little is expected on streetfighter motorcycles and the Buell XB12S Lightning is particularly minimalist. The motorcycle's seat is barely adequate for one, let alone two and the lack of wind protection makes longer journeys tiring on a Buell XB12S Lightning.  Fuel range poor. Twin trip meters is about as much luxury as you get with this motorcycle. Factory extras include a gel seat, rigid panniers, frame protectors, loads of carbon and dress up parts and more. 

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    Engine size1203cc
    Engine type8v V-twin, 5 gears
    Frame typeAluminium dual spar
    Fuel capacity14.5 litres
    Seat height765mm
    Bike weight179kg
    Front suspensionPreload, rebound, compression
    Rear suspensionPreload, rebound, compression
    Front brakeSingle 375mm disc
    Rear brake240mm disc
    Front tyre size120/70 x 17
    Rear tyre size180/55 x 17

    Mpg, costs & insurance

    Average fuel consumption46 mpg
    Annual road tax£96
    Annual service cost£200
    New price-
    Used price -
    Insurance group 16 of 17
    How much to insure?
    Warranty termTwo year unlimited mileage

    Top speed & performance

    Max power100 bhp
    Max torque81 ft-lb
    Top speed150 mph
    1/4 mile acceleration11.2 secs
    Tank range145 miles

    Model history & versions

    Model history

    2002: Buell XB9S Lightning introduced.
    2003: Buell XB12S Lightning introduced.
    2004: Buell XB9S replaced by Buell XB9S City-X.
    2005: Buell XB12Ss Lightning Long introduced.
    2005: Buell XB12X Ulysses introduced.

    Other versions

    Buell XB9S Lightning: the original Lightning (in 2002) came with a smaller 984cc engine
    Beull XB9S City-X: smaller 984cc engine motocross style bars, transparent bodywork.
    Buell XB12S Lightning Long: longer wheelbase, more spacious riding position and slower steering geometry for a less manic ride. Other minor mods.
    Buell XB12X Ulysses: 'adventure sport' style with enduro bars and bodywork and long travel suspension.

    Owners' reviews for the BUELL XB12S LIGHTNING (2003 - 2009)

    16 owners have reviewed their BUELL XB12S LIGHTNING (2003 - 2009) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

    Review your BUELL XB12S LIGHTNING (2003 - 2009)

    Summary of owners' reviews

    Overall rating: 4.6 out of 5(4.6/5)
    Ride quality & brakes: 4.9 out of 5(4.9/5)
    Engine: 4.6 out of 5(4.6/5)
    Reliability & build quality: 4.6 out of 5(4.6/5)
    Value vs rivals: 4.5 out of 5(4.5/5)
    Equipment: 4.4 out of 5(4.4/5)
    Annual servicing cost: £200
    5 out of 5Just ride one!

    22 November 2019by Chris

    Version: SCG

    Year: 2005

    Annual servicing cost: £200

    My 05 xb12scg, is the coolest bike I have ever ridden. It handles the corners, like no other bike! And I have never felt cooler, then when I ride that bike.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    You will never feel as cool as you do on a Buell! The brakes are phenomenal. I can stop on a dime. The corner is unbelievable. Watch some YouTube videos.

    Engine5 out of 5

    It's the rumble of a 1203 cc Harley, the V-Twin is easy enough to work on. And regardless of what anyone tells you, that simple old cavemen design engine is a beast! The low-end torque will drop you off the back if you don't hold on tight.

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    In two seasons, I have replace the rear tire once, clutch cable once, but that one was my fault I overturned the ferrule. And about a hundred bucks in oil change supplies (oil, oil filter, drain plug o-rings, clutch cover gasket, inspection Port gasket.) And of course, I upgraded the exhaust, and added some cosmetic upgrades like shorty levers, bar end mirrors, some vinyl wrapping, and a new seat because mine was 14 years old.

    Equipment5 out of 5

    It's a motorcycle not a luxury car. what more do you want than something that looks cool sounds amazing and moves like the wind?

    Buying experience: Brand new they were $10,500 retail. I bought mine used for $3,000 and $475 for shipping. I purchased it from a small independent dealer in mesquite Texas. I bought it over the phone, and internet. I never heard it or saw it in person before I purchased it. And it was super exciting getting the updates from the shipper along the way to my state of Washington.

    5 out of 5Can only Agree

    27 May 2009by EHoen

    I can only agree to the last comments what a great bike!

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment5 out of 5

    5 out of 5Nice

    27 May 2009by USchwarz

    I owned a lot of bikes from Japan, German, american, Italian, british, austrian and even a Russian. But the Buell is the one which always puts a smile on my face. When I get up on my day off after a 14 hour day, tired and exhausted I look out of the kitchen window and see her sleeping and I just know I gotta get out asap. Reliability? Well I owned an Italian primadonna which would not start straight away when it was raining or under 10C! Bearing in mind that the BUELL is a pretty exclusive bike it never let me down in 54K miles on the original belt!! Highly recommendable even as first 'big' bike.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment5 out of 5

    5 out of 5Excellent

    26 May 2009by V2Alf

    Love that bike.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment5 out of 5

    5 out of 5All You ever need

    26 May 2009by BuelTom

    Best bike I ever ridden. Go on the twisty country roads or up on the serpentines in the alps and all those r1, blades or zx will eat. You don't need to be a Rossi to scrape your knee with the XB.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment5 out of 5

    2 out of 5problems

    22 May 2009by martyn242

    i owned an XB12sx for 18 months and put 11000 mile on her, in that 18 months the bike cost me £1600 in parts, repairs and hassle. I loved the way it handled and looked but every single other bit was appauling. anyone wanting an everydy bike should not even consider a buell - they dont work!!

    Ride quality & brakes4 out of 5

    Engine3 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality1 out of 5

    Value vs rivals2 out of 5

    Equipment1 out of 5

    5 out of 5I love it

    30 April 2009by Schwarzi

    Brilliant bike just love it. No big problems on it had a misfire due to bad spark plugs and a tps reset which is nothing. I had a Super Duke before and I love to Buell more than any other bike I had. Never had a bike before giving me so much confidence to throw it into corners and get my knee down than the XB. I know on the UKBEG forum there is a stark tendency to talk the XB down and praise the 'easy fix' Tuber but I think that is all due to people who spend all those hours on their bikes that they just dishonest to themselves how the Tubers really are. I rode any X1 and S1 and the handling is just awful. Also the standard looks of the Tubers are ugly compared to the XB where only the Cheesegrater in the way of the beauty but easily removable. I am using my bike every day in every weather the XB whether it is a S, R, TT or Uly are great bikes and reliable.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment5 out of 5

    5 out of 5Ride one

    30 April 2009by svens

    I could write a book on here explaining why it is so good but you have to experience it yourself so get down to your local dealership and test ride one and you will see what I mean.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment5 out of 5

    5 out of 5You have to own one

    30 April 2009by ThomasD

    As Clarkson always says you have to own at least one Alfa in your life. I have to say you have to own at least one Buell in your life and this is the model or the XB12R. Forget the old unreliable tube frame models these bikes apart from very early 03 bikes are absolute fun. The first time you sit on them and start em up it might feel weird but the first time you out on a country road you cannot stop loving them. XB riders are known for a constant grin on their face. The handling is idiot proof and superb. The engine, yes it want do over 120 (I don't know where they get the 150 from) but you don't want to do that on it anyway but saying that it will do motorway miles without problems. The old tubers are known for exploding engines on motorways. The XB has tons of torque and will kill any superbike in cornering. Than there is the exclusivity turn up at your local biker caff and you will see how many other Buell's there are most times you will be the only one and you will piss these mid life crisis weekend granpa-rossis on their sunshine bikes off in stealing them the show. only problem is when you wonna hit off you have to fight through the crowd which has build up around your XB.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment5 out of 5

    5 out of 5Always loved Buell

    28 April 2009by TomRider

    Well yes I always did. I had a S1 and an X1 both where absolutely horrible blowing engines at early stage. After riding some Nippon the XB came out and wow it looked the business. Love at first sight. But grown older and matured I thought do you want to go through all that again, having the bike fixed when the mates riding on the weekend. Well I test rode one and I just had to have one. Now after 5 years and 56700mls I still love it like on the first day. Thanks to Harley the rubbish reliability of the old tube frame models got sorted and Erik still has his crazy input on the design both pared made a superb handling bike. No other bike handles like the XB and the grunt of the 1203cc is just awesome. If you want to stand out from the crowd, without spending lots of money on a Italo exotica than you have to have the XB!!!!!

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment2 out of 5

    5 out of 5Give it a chance

    13 February 2009by Cornerthief

    If I could only enter one sentence here, it would be: Just take it for a test drive. I admit, the first time you get on it, having a tweaked harley engine thumping away is a bit odd. But once you open it up, ohhh boy. It has power nearly everywhere along the rev range and the cornering is excellent. The bike just has tons of character and makes you smile constantly. As for the comments in the review concerning the engine and the gearbox: not an issue, at least not in the 2008 model that I have. The gearbox is great and there's no jerkeyness what so ever. There's nothing wrong with the build quality these days, the review above definately needs updating. The only thing that might be a problem is the exhaust. Its been known to rust, so far though, i haven't had a problem with it. Fuell range: poor? Thats just plain wrong. If you ride it as a commuter you'll get 200 miles out of it. And as for the equipment, why it gets two stars astounds me as the speed triple get 5 stars (which is also a streetfighter), which is just as minimalist. There's tons of parts available if you want to customize it.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality4 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment4 out of 5

    1 out of 5FAT FLAT SPOT

    18 November 2008by

    I had a 2005 XB12s and it was excellent especially the engine,i really loved the responsive punchy power.So buying the 2008 model with its extra tweaks it had gained over the years i new it would be even better. OOOHHHhh dear,how wrong can you be,what the f.c.s happened here.I am so shocked at how bad the power delivery is,twist the throttle and it all bogs down.The engine is fine for poodling along at 1-3thou revs,but crack the throttle open and it's one big flat spot all the way to 5 thousand revs where your met with a big shudder and finally thrust.Yes i had the bike checked over as i really thought there was a problem,but every thing is NORMAL!!!! i test road an 08 xb12scg and it does do the same thing. It is a real shame as the 05 buell was the best bike i ever had but the 08 model is the worst.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine1 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality4 out of 5

    Value vs rivals1 out of 5

    Equipment5 out of 5

    5 out of 5buelltiful

    14 May 2007by alser

    i have had tl's busas ccms vertematis but nothing comes close to my cherry bomb red buell xb12scg the torque is incredible it actually stopped traffic in middlesbrough the build is superb im used to it coz its all suzuki switchgear and its awsome completely unique and customizable theres a dealer who just does after market parts at trojan horse the engine is a stonker its pricey but worth it

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals4 out of 5

    Equipment4 out of 5

    5 out of 5xb12s2005

    07 April 2007by ducatis4rman

    on our ducati club run in 2005 the local dealer for ducati,hd e.t.c. in malaga spain sent a couple of buell on the run a lot of interest was shown my wife who rides 620I i duc monster loved it,as did one of our sons, the next week we went on a test run and it was ace so we ordered 2 for our use and a couple for the tour business, the response to them as been good ,they are so forgiving if you mess it up a bit, and they handle the mountain,twistys, perfectly, the bottem end grunt is brill, and by playing with the chimney a bit they dont half sound good,the only trouble we have had is on one the fuel pump was very loud but it was sorted out by the dealer.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality4 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment4 out of 5

    5 out of 507 xb12scg

    04 April 2007by joedprf4i

    I really love it. my last bike, 03r1, I had it for 4 years. Last weekend I took the buell out for the first time to the country. On the Twisties & mountains, I was consistently going 5 to 10 MPH FASTER than the r1. I was simply amazed at how you could become one with the buell so quickly. It feels like you're riding a mountain bike with a great engine and super brakes all wrapped in an egineering masterpiece of a package. Can you tell I relly like it? Thanks Mr. Buell.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment5 out of 5

    5 out of 5Xb12Ss 2007

    06 March 2007by Lightning Boy

    What a blinding bike. Much improved in the 2007 model year as the gearbox and clutch were brought up to Jap standards. The ride is superb, really lets you know what's going on without blasting you out of the seat when you roll over an ant. The equipment is sparse but that's fine, you dont buy a bike like this to get bells and whistles... you buy it because you specifically cant stand all the tat that other bikes get peppered with. The quality over all is just excellent, apart from the standard exhaust which RUSTS in about 5 minutes. I really do mean 5 minutes. Everything else is beautifully thought out, the engineering solutions are spot on. Frankly, I love it. I've had 2 Firestorms, a Fireblade and countless road based bikes, cutoms and off roaders and this is one of the best things I've chucked a leg over. Bring on the dry roads and roundabouts. Perfect.

    Ride quality & brakes5 out of 5

    Engine5 out of 5

    Reliability & build quality5 out of 5

    Value vs rivals5 out of 5

    Equipment5 out of 5

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    Buell XB12S Lightning motorcycle review - Riding

    Sours: https://www.motorcyclenews.com/bike-reviews/buell/xb12s-lightning/2003/
    Riding Bikes - 2009 Buell Lightning Long XB12SS Test Ride - First Impression Review v503

    And when he finishes, maybe, he will let go in peace. '' Well, then, bitch, further. Yeah, that means the guy is excited by the words. She's not even going to take off her panties and bra. Well, feel, feel.

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    The hospital, I will describe it by popular demand, I accept requests and comments to [email protected] My name is Anna, my husband's name is Victor. At the weekend, with friends went to nature, swim in a pond, fry barbecue. There were 8 of us: 3 married couples, including my husband and I, a friend of Sergei, Maxim and Yana, a friend of one of the girls, our company.

    The day was sunny and hot. We are located on the banks of the river, a good beach, an islet with a sandbank and a forest is located nearby, in general.

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